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The Batterer

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Table of Contents

What Is A Batterer? * Drowning in a Red Tide * Are All Batterers Alike? * The Cycle of Violence and the Abusive Personality The Creation Of A Cyclical Batterer * Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder * Shame: The Fathers Contribution * Ambivalent and Angry Attachment: The Mothers Contribution * Learning the Ways of Violence * The Assaultive Man as an Adolescent * The Borderline Male: The Cycle of Fear and Rage Is A Cure Possible? * Helping the Abusive Man * Conclusion

About the Author

Donald G. Dutton, Ph.D., is a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia and the director of the Assaultive Husbands Program in Vancouver.Susan K. Golant is the author of 13 books including Helping Yourself Help Others, with Rosalylnn Carter.


University of British Columbia psychology professor Dutton specializes in treating batterers. A batterer's mind, he says, is ``a place of anguish and self-loathing.'' Writing with Golant (coauthor with Rosalyn Carter of Helping Yourself Help Others) he discusses the symptoms, characteristics and, in some cases, the cure for such violent behavior. Most repeat batterers, he maintains, suffer from a fragile sense of self, usually the result of a shaming father, an only intermittently available mother and violence in the family. For the batterer, an episode of violence involves three stages: buildup of tension, battering and contrition. Dutton rejects neurological and metabolic causes and sees symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the fear-filled attachment of the batterer to the woman he batters, whom he needs. Dutton shows how group therapy has occasionally been successful in treating batterers. (Oct.)

Spousal abuse has been getting more press these days, thanks partly to the O.J. Simpson trial. Dutton, an expert witness for the prosecution in the trial, and coauthor Golant, draw on this "trial of the century" to help elucidate their points regarding wife batterers. As sensationalistic as that sounds, the authors never stoop to tabloid journalism; their considered use of information from the Simpson trial actually increases the book's accessibility for general readers. In addition, Dutton, director of the Assaultive Husbands Program in Vancouver, also draws on the case studies of other, less-well-known abusers he has dealt with. Dutton and Golant provide an excellent introduction to the psychology of wife abusers, examining the different types of abusers: psychopathic, overcontrolled, and cyclical. They then narrow the focus to the cyclical abuser (the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde type exemplified by Simpson) and examine the different factors that go into making such an abuser. The authors also offer a link between posttraumatic stress syndrome and spousal abuse. They have produced a cogent and interesting book that deserves a place in both public and undergraduate libraries.‘Pamela A. Matthews, Missouri Western State Coll., St. Joseph

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